Is Your Customer Service Team Ready For A New Wave Of Covid?

Covid-19 cases in the US took a dip in the right direction in September, but now they are increasing again. Partly driven by the colder fall weather forcing people inside more often and partly because people are just fatigued with the restrictions, we are seeing about 55,000 new cases a day right now.

Michael Osterholm, director of the Center for Infectious Disease Research and Policy at the University of Minnesota, has warned that the next three months may be the “darkest of the entire pandemic.”

“Friday (October 16), we had 70,000 cases, matching the largest number we had seen back during the really serious peak in July,” Osterholm said on Sunday. “That number, we’re going to blow right through that. And between now and the holidays, we will see numbers much, much larger than even the 67,000 to 75,000 cases.”

The only states not seeing a dramatic spike in cases are Missouri and Vermont. At this time Dr Anthony Fauci of the NIAID has said that it would need to get ‘really, really, bad’ before he would recommend another national lockdown. Nobody wants to see that situation again, but what if it does happen?

Every American knows that the virus has become a political football, but to see so many scientists warning that the pandemic is about to get worse, because we are entering winter, is really concerning. 11 vaccines are in their final trials and 6 are being tested as limited use vaccines, but we still don’t have a single vaccine formally approved for use by the public yet. Production ramp up will take some time, even with the preemptive manufacturing taking place right now, so we really have to assume that we are facing this winter without a vaccine.

It feels like a national lockdown is unlikely because it caused such economic hardship last time, but the virus is spreading fast – any executive planning for business continuity over the Holiday season needs to assume that there may be some local city or state lockdowns in the next few months.

In this uncertain business scenario any executive planning a reliable customer service strategy for the coming months needs to be thinking of just a few key priorities:

  1. How do I keep my team safe?
  2. How do I keep my customers safe?
  3. How do I maintain the ability of my team to continue working?
  4. How do we plan a customer service strategy that will work in this uncertain environment, but can also take us into 2021?
  5. How can I explore a customer service strategy that is focused on resilience, rather than requiring constant emergency actions?

Many customer service executives and contact center executives sent their team home during the initial lockdown. Laptops were prepared and teams suddenly had to work remotely. By and large this has worked, but the reality is that these people were recruited to work in offices, that’s what they expected, and by now the problems of isolation and communication will be kicking in.

It’s time to consider how you can augment your core team with GigCX, so you have a flexible home-based customer service workforce that can step in to pick up any surges in demand due to the regular team not being available. You might even consider a wholesale move to GigCX when you see how the team members are so much more enthusiastic about the service they provide – compared to contact center agents who want to be back in the contact center, not in their pajamas.

If you are planning for business continuity right now then uncertainty is one of the only real certainties, but you can mitigate a number of risks by ensuring that your team wants to work from home and they are equipped to do this – with systems for security and productivity all in place.

Nobody wants this situation to continue any longer than necessary, but business leaders need to accept that we will be fighting this virus for at least several more months. Now is the right time to consider if your customer service strategy is designed for the future, or is just a temporary solution that became permanent through necessity.